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June 08, 2015

Tale of the tape: A statistical look at DeMarco Murray vs LeSean McCoy

Eagles NFL
060815LeSeanMcCoy Patrick Semansky/AP

The Eagles essentially traded LeSean McCoy for Kiko Alonso and DeMarco Murray.

The Eagles went from one great running back to another this offseason. Out is the shifty, dynamic LeSean McCoy; in is powerful sledgehammer DeMarco Murray. Over the course of their careers, both McCoy and Murray ran behind offensive lines that were at times stellar, at other times not so much. First, their basic stats:

Player Games Att Yds YPC TD 
 LeSean McCoy 901461 6792 4.65 44 
 DeMarco Murray 53934 4526 4.85 28 

Here, we'll take a deeper look at McCoy and Murray from a statistical standpoint, and determine which back has the edge in 10 different categories: Durability, Age/wear/tear, cost, receiving capabilities, short yardage, explosive plays as a runner, explosive plays as a receiver, yards after contact, fumbles, and #culture.


In six NFL seasons, McCoy has missed a total of just five games because of injury, and played in all 16 games four times. (We'll give McCoy credit for playing in all 16 games in 2010, because he sat out the meaningless Week 17 game when the Eagles were already locked into their playoff seed). In four seasons, Murray has missed nine games, and has just one season in which he played in all 16 games.

Edge: McCoy

Age, wear/tear

LeSean McCoy has been in the league two years longer, but Murray is actually seven months older. Here are the projected starters for every team in the NFL, ranked by age:

Age rank Player Team Birthday Age 
 OldestFrank Gore Colts 5/14/1983 32 
 2Adrian Peterson Vikings 3/21/1985 30 
 3Rashad Jennings Giants 3/26/1985 30 
 4Justin Forsett Ravens 10/14/1985 29 
 5Matt Forte Bears 12/10/1985 29 
 6Marshawn Lynch Seahawks 4/22/1986 29 
 7Joique Bell Lions 8/4/1986 28 
 8Arian Foster Texans 8/24/1986 28 
 9LeGarrett Blount Patriots 12/5/1986 28 
 10Jamaal Charles Chiefs 12/27/1986 28 
 11Jonathan Stewart Panthers 3/21/1987 28 
 12Darren McFadden Cowboys 8/27/1988 27 
 13DeMarco Murray Eagles 2/12/1988 27 
 14Chris Ivory Jets 3/22/1988 27 
 15LeSean McCoy Bills 7/12/1988 26 
 16Alfred Morris Redskins 12/12/1988 26 
 17Doug Martin Buccaneers 1/13/1989 26 
 18Andre Ellington Cardinals 2/3/1989 26 
 19Mark Ingram Saints 12/21/1989 25 
 20Eddie Lacy Packers 1/1/1991 24 
 21C.J. Anderson Broncos 2/10/1991 24 
 22Latavius Murray Raiders 2/21/1991 24 
 23Lamar Miller Dolphins 4/25/1991 24 
 24Carlos Hyde 49ers 9/20/1991 23 
 25Le'Veon Bell Steelers 2/18/1992 23 
 26Devonta Freeman Falcons 3/15/1992 23 
 27Bishop Sankey Titans 9/15/1992 22 
 28Jeremy Hill Bengals 10/20/1992 22 
 29Isaiah Crowell Browns 1/8/1993 22 
 30Melvin Gordon Chargers 4/13/1993 22 
 31T.J. Yeldon Jaguars 10/2/1993 21 
 YoungestTodd Gurley Rams 8/3/1994 20 

For their pro careers, McCoy has 1761 total touches. Murray has 1105.

McCoy only played two years at Pitt, while Murray played four at Oklahoma. However, even if you add Murray and McCoy's college workloads to their pro workloads, McCoy still has significantly more touches:

 PlayerCollege touches Pro touches Total touches 
 LeSean McCoy (2007-2014)649 1761 2410 
 DeMarco Murray (2007-2014)916 1105 2021 

Murray famously had an enormous workload in 2014, when he had 449 regular season touches, and 497 if you include the playoffs. However, it's not as if McCoy hasn't had a huge workload himself. Over the last two seasons, McCoy has 706 total touches. McCoy led the NFL in carries in 2013, and was second in 2014, whereas Murray's 2014 season was the first time he ever had more than 217 carries.

Edge: Murray


Cap numbers, by year, via

Year LeSean McCoy DeMarco Murray 
2015 $5,500,000$5,000,000
2016 $7,675,000$8,000,000
2017 $8,875,000$9,000,000
2018 $8,975,000$9,000,000
2019 $9,050,000$9,000,000

Their cap hits are roughly the same. However, I think the difference here is that the Eagles are in a better position than the Bills in years 3-5 if they want to get out early. The key numbers in the charts below are the two rows all the way to the right, which show the cap hits/savings if cut.


Murray contract


McCoy contract

McCoy would have counted for roughly $12 million against the cap in 2015 if he were still on the team, and the Eagles hadn't worked out some sort of contract extension with him.

Edge: Murray

As a receiver

The Eagles have always made it a priority to get the ball in the hands of their running backs in the passing game, which is going to skew McCoy's numbers here to some degree. Nevertheless, McCoy's career receiving numbers are far better than Murray's.

Avg receiving numbers/year Rec Yards TD YPC 20+ 
 LeSean McCoy50 380.3 1.7 7.6 3.7 
 DeMarco Murray42.8 300 0.25 7.0 1.5 

However, McCoy's numbers were way down in 2014, while Murray's were up:

2014 receiving Rec Yards TD YPC 20+ 
 LeSean McCoy28 155 5.5 
 DeMarco Murray57 416 7.3 

Murray will be in an offense that utilizes their backs in the passing game more than he's used to in Dallas, so it will be interesting to see how he adapts, but for now we'll call McCoy's down 2014 an anomaly until we see him string a couple down seasons together in that regard.

Edge: McCoy

Short yardage

We'll define "short yardage" situations here as all runs when there were 1-3 yards to go for a first down, or 1st and goal from the 3-yard line or closer. The numbers in those situations:

 Short yardageAtt Yds YPC TD 1st downs 1st down % 
 DeMarco Murray149 653 4.4 17 107 71.8% 
 LeSean McCoy245 1160 4.7 26 159 64.9% 

Murray's 71.8 percent career first down conversion rate in 1-3 yards-to-go situations is outstanding. I always felt that McCoy was underrated as a short-yardage runner, and the difference between McCoy and Murray isn't great, but McCoy is simply not on Murray's level on short yardage plays.

Murray has also been a more effective runner in the red zone.

 Red zoneAtt Yds YPC TD TD % 
 DeMarco Murray129 364 2.8 26 20.2% 
 LeSean McCoy220 539 2.5 32 14.5% 

Edge: Murray 

Explosive plays

When we think of LeSean McCoy and DeMarco Murray, most would perceive McCoy to be the more explosive player. That's not necessarily true.

For his career, LeSean McCoy has 47 rushes of 20+ yards, and 12 rushes of 40+ yards. DeMarco Murray has 35 rushes of 20+ yards and 9 rushes of 40+ yards. However, when you factor in their career rushing attempt totals, Murray has runs of 20+ or 40+ yards more frequently than LeSean McCoy.

20+ yard runs Attempts 20+ yard gains Attempts in between 20+ yard gains 
 DeMarco Murray934 35 26.7 
 LeSean McCoy1461 47 31.1 

 40+ yard runsAttempts 40+ yard gains Attempts in between 20+ yard gains 
 DeMarco Murray934 103.8 
 LeSean McCoy1461 12 121.8 

However, in the passing game, McCoy has far more explosive plays. For his career, McCoy has 22 receptions of 20+ yards, 5 of which went for 40+ yards. DeMarco Murray has 6 receptions of 20+, and has no receptions of 40+ yards. The Eagles were of course a far better screen team both in the Andy Reid and Chip Kelly years, which helps McCoy, but that is still a rather big difference in numbers.

Edge: Murray as a rusher, McCoy as a receiver

Yards after contact

In 2014, Murray had 998 yards after contact, which led the NFL, as it should considering he carried the ball far more than any other back. This is an area where you would expect Murray to be better than McCoy, and he is. Here are Murray's and McCoy's average yards after contact, sorted from their best years to their worst. (Number via ProFootballFocus)

Year Player Attempts Avg yds after contact 
 2011DeMarco Murray 164 3.01 
 2010LeSean McCoy 207 2.98 
 2013DeMarco Murray 217 2.71 
 2014DeMarco Murray 392 2.54 
 2012LeSean McCoy 200 2.52 
 2011LeSean McCoy 273 2.51 
 2012DeMarco Murray 161 2.48 
 2013LeSean McCoy 314 2.38 
 2009LeSean McCoy 155 2.25 
 2014LeSean McCoy 312 2.06 

Two of the three worst seasons for average yards per contact among the two players were McCoy's 2013 and 2014 seasons. McCoy's 2014 season was the worst of the group, at a paltry 2.06 average yards after contract. 

Last year, many Eagles observers debated whether or not LeSean McCoy looked the same as he used to. While the Eagles certainly had their difficulties staying healthy along their offensive line, McCoy didn't help matters much by not breaking tackles or making guys miss like he did in previous seasons. There is some evidence here that he is in decline.

Edge: Murray


In 2014, DeMarco Murray fumbled five times during the regular season on 449 total touches. He lost all five. He also had a devastating fumble against the Packers in the playoffs in which he had nothing but open space in front of him, but Julius Peppers was able to lunge at him and pop it out. Clearly, Murray fumbled more than you would like last year, although obviously, he touched the football far more than any player in the league.

LeSean McCoy wasn't without his issues fumbling the football last year. He fumbled four times, losing three. McCoy often carries the ball way away from his body carelessly (see picture at the top of this post), and in the past, somehow it did not bite him as much as it probably should have. Last year it caught up to him a bit.

Career fumbles Touches Fumbles Touches in between fumbles 
 LeSean McCoy1761 14 125.8 
 DeMarco Murray1105 12 92.1 

Edge: McCoy


I don't have any numbers to back this one up, but I think we can all agree at this point that McCoy is a bit of a jackass. #Analysis.

LeSean McCoy 5 stages

Edge: Murray


Stat LeSean McCoy DeMarco Murray 
Age, wear/tear  
As a receiver 
 Short yardage 
 Explosive plays (runs) 
 Explosive plays (receptions) 
Yards after contact  

Follow Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyKempski